SACRAMENTO — Three people including the father of French train hero Spencer Stone have been indicted in a scheme to set fire to commercial buildings in the Sacramento area in order to collect insurance money.
The indictment unsealed Friday says that Jamal Shehadeh, 57, was the ringleader, setting seven fires at six commercial buildings where he operated businesses then collecting over $1.5 million in insurance proceeds from 2009 to 2013. His charges include seven counts of arson and 52 counts of mail and wire fraud.
Prosecutors say that Stone's 57-year-old father Brian J. Stone was a business consultant for Shehadeh and helped with the fraudulent insurance claims. He's charged with 13 counts of mail or wire fraud.
A third defendant was charged with three counts of mail fraud.
Defense attorney Benjamin Galloway said in court Friday that Jamal Shehadeh emphatically denies the allegations. Stone's attorney declined comment.
U.S. Airman Spencer Stone along with friends Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler were vacationing in Europe in August when they tackled a gunman with ties to radical Islam on a Paris-bound passenger train in August.
The incident made Spencer Stone an international hero. He was celebrated in a hometown parade and invited to the State of the Union as a guest of Michelle Obama.
He again made news in October when he was knifed in a fight near a bar in Sacramento shortly after nightclub patrons applauded him for his role in stopping the gunman.
Reached by phone Friday night, Spencer Stone told the Sacramento Bee that he was unaware of the charges against his father and has not known what his father does "for a long time."